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For Everyone’s Sake, Let’s Make Space Presentations Better

We’ve all sat through those presentations at IAC that induce slumber before slide 2. The space industry is famous for its uninspiring decks, which is a real shame because this un-inspiration is in such stark contrast against the excitement of what space companies are actually working on.

At Cosma Schema, serving clients isn’t our only job. We’re also on a mission to improve all types of brand communication in the space sector, client or not. So, we’ve put together a few tips that will hopefully allow New Space leaders to keep their audiences hooked (or that will at least keep each other awake at future conferences or pitches).

1. The tech won’t sell itself.

In a recent discussion we had with the CEO of a prominent space investment fund, they shared how disappointed they were to see so many founders downplaying the importance of their pitch and presentation, claiming that  “The tech will sell itself.” No matter how monumental your new thermal coating technology is, if you can’t tell the right, captivating story about it, it won’t matter. Investors and customers are investing in you, your spirit, and your communication abilities as a business leader as much as they’re investing in the tech. They want to trust you, and they won’t just trust you because space is cool.

2. Prepare to get grilled.

Before building your deck, take a moment to write down all the possible questions that your audience could possibly ask you. Seriously, write them down. Be the investor. Be the customer. Don’t just be a space engineer. And if you can’t get out of that mindset, ask someone who is closer to your target to weigh in. In thinking through the answers to those questions, list out tangible, real-world examples, numbers (even if they’re projections) that you could provide as answers in your presentation.  

3. Don’t start with designing slides.

Before opening up a new presentation template, write down the one singular goal of your presentation (eg: Secure funding. Get an LOI. etc.). Then, under that, write out your table of contents: the broad sections of your presentation that will support the achievement of that singular goal. Seems simple, but most people dive in without completing this step first, and it shows. We’ve all sat through that presentation where the speaker spent way too much time explaining the different iterations of the motor testing campaign and then rushed through the rest. Don’t be that person.

4. It’s all about them.

People want to hear stories, stories that matter to them. They want to immediately understand what impact your space robotic arm is going to have on their everyday life, not just how your technology works. How will your Earth imaging software help them increase their bottom line? Or help them offer their services 3x as fast to customers? Making your audience feel understood by telling them a clear, relevant, human story is your absolute priority. No matter how badly you want to show the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve devoted to the stochastic trajectory optimization of your spacecraft, it may not help land your seed round. Be discerning. You can always have a technical appendix.

5. It’s all about you.

Like it or not, you want your audience looking at your passionate face more than your PowerPoint. The point of your presentation should always be you and what you’re saying, with the deck as a visual complement to support your story or quickly show concepts that aren’t easily expressed with words. A way to guarantee this is to keep slides extremely minimal and focused on one message per slide. If there are 15 graphs describing the dependency of the power required from 5 different parameters on one slide, your audience will not be looking at you, they’ll be trying to figure out what the hell that damn graph means.

6. Consistency is the key to looking polished.

 Always use the same style bullet points if any, fonts in the same 1-2 sizes and 2-3 colors and 2-3 styles of slide. Make sure all images have the same treatment  (eg: all black and white, or all full-bleed), and that charts and graphs all share the same design and color scheme. Remember that your competitors are going to use the same market research, data and information about the number of micro satellites that will be launched,  so make sure you visualize that data in your own unique way that fits seamlessly with your deck’s design and supports your presentation’s story.

7. You don’t need to have your company logo on every page.

It’s distracting and not adding useful information. If your audience needs to be reminded on every slide who you are, you’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands.

8. Generic stock photos make your company look generic.

Interesting, carefully selected, uniquely cropped or colored photos and imagery will, on the other hand a) make it look like you actually spent time on your deck and b) will reflect well on your commitment to excellence and doing things differently as a company overall. How many times have you seen the same images of the Earth from space? Or the same computer generated image of satellites swooping around the planet with different ground stations lighting up? While this may be the most literal representation of your work, any benefit from being so accurate is overshadowed by the drawback of appearing completely unoriginal and unimaginative.

9. Test!

You’d never send your tech to space without performing some kind of testing, so why should it be different for your presentations? Find people that are already in or very close to your intended audience, present to them and ask for feedback. Who wants to practice a presentation over and over again? No one. But you’ve got to. Getting expert feedback from many different sources is the only way to truly know if people are picking up what you’re laying down.

The Outer Space Branding Agency Rebrands

In 2016, the idea of Cosma Schema ignited. Two years later and we’re helping some of the world’s most daring, visionary New Space entrepreneurs communicate their ideas across the globe.

From electric aerospace startups, to in-space transportation companies, to decades old UN-founded space organizations, to keeping Carl Sagan’s dreams alive, we’ve touched parts of space we used to think only astronauts could.

We now have front row seats to the New Space renaissance, and it’s exhilarating. But when we look at the state of design and communication in the space industry, we don’t see the same renaissance. We see insular, old guard, disregard. Ever since the Starfleet Insignia’s first appearance it seems, space companies have collectively clung to technical jargon written in futuristic-looking extended fonts laced with apogees and swooshes of blue and black.

In order for the public to better envision their future in space or for investors to put their dollars there, the industry must shed its outdated uniform.

But what does that look like?

Over the last few years, we’ve been hard at work sprucing up our client’s brands yet as we wade deeper into the space community, we’ve noticed that we could do better with our own. Can we continue to point out the prominence of blue in space design while using it as our flagship color? How can we, as industry brand leaders, better embody that progress that is the heart and soul of New Space? Well, to lead by example. Yep, the outer space branding agency has rebranded.

We looked back a few decades to a time when the average person was truly excited about space. We looked forward to the burgeoning space culture of the future. And from that amalgam, our updated brand emerged.

Our new logo, “The Transit”, is multi-layered in meaning. Firstly, and most literally, it represents a snapshot of a moon transiting a portion a planetary ring—a scene that will only ever be visible to the most ambitious voyagers.

This celestial alignment is a natural fit as our key brand metaphor. During a transit event, as within a branding exercise, things that couldn’t be seen before become clear. When an exoplanet transits a star, using careful research, analysis, and scrutiny, only at that moment can one gain knowledge about the transiting body. Similarly, when our own Moon transits the Sun in a solar eclipse, for a brief moment the Sun’s corona becomes visible: a property that would’ve never been highlighted without the transit.

For us, developing a good brand requires time, patience, and a ton of research, too. Branding can be therapeutic for our clients—revealing truths about the very nature of your business otherwise unknown. It not until all the pieces align that a brand’s foundation can be solid enough to support a growing company.

Transits, like branding, are always a matter of perception. To witness a transit, the observer must be in alignment with the transiting body and the object behind it, and if the observer moves to a different vantage point the transit is invisible. Branding is all about considering the vantage point of the observer—or customer— and strategically aligning elements—names, logos, language, color—so that what seen is the ideal perception of your company.

We’ve intentionally chosen a color palette that is rarely seen in the space community, usually dominated by blues and blacks. Our palette utilizes bright colors to represent the excitement surrounding the New Space economy with our dominant color, Canopy Green, acting a constant reminder that the advancement of space initiatives are always in the service of humans on Earth.

Our exciting new identity underscores our existential commitment to bringing warmth, uniqueness and open curiosity to the visual and verbal language of space brand communication, proving that you don’t need vast, black starry website backgrounds or a pitch deck written by Data to show that you’re serious about moving humanity closer to the cosmos.

Thanks for joining us as we strive to create greater understanding, accessibility and excitement about outer space through beautiful design and simple communication.

Bad Space Company Names Are Giving The Whole Industry a Bad Name

Orbital ATK. Space IL. iSpace Inc. Innovative Space Technologies, LLC. C’mon, really?

The way most space companies have named themselves gives the impression that they don’t recognize or care to take advantage of their company name as a business tool. Because most have selected a name that speaks generally about space or an empty vessel name which carries no readily available meaning, it seems like most New Space founders treat naming as something they reluctantly have to do but don’t want to deeply consider.

“But why does naming even matter for a space company?” those founders might ask. We believe that if space companies developed more thoughtful, strategic names, then they would be more successful on an individual level, and simultaneously raise the tide for the entire space industry. Here’s why:

There isn’t much space left.

More and more companies are entering the New Space industry and in doing so competing for attention. There are entire conferences dedicated to space startups (shoutout to Disrupt Space and New Space!). When one walks around these conferences, there are few or no names that a) are dramatically different from the booth beside them and b) evoke a distinct feeling. With the industry becoming increasingly more mature, companies can no longer afford to name themselves in an undifferentiated way.

For instance, if Astro Digital, Astrocast, Astroscale, Astrobotic were all to present at IAC, it doesn’t matter how groundbreaking their respective offerings are, there are people who will confuse their names. What a tragedy for those four companies working hard to build awareness and grow their businesses!

Maybe twenty years ago when the industry was comprised of a few megalith aerospace companies, global space agencies like NASA and Roscosmos, and lots of academic research projects, a company could slide by with a status quo name. But in the current New Space era, thanks to plummeting barriers to entry, and rampant investment, the private space sector is flourishing. This also means it’s more crowded than ever which has major implications for how all of these companies communicate.

Space is a location, not a value proposition.

The fact that the space industry continues to want to highlight or include “space” in their name shows in and of itself that space is novel. Which isn’t a good thing. If space is to become main$tream we want space to be seen as normal, not novel. Of course it can be a part of a company’s story. But continuing to emphasize it as a leading point within company names draws attention to how fledgling the industry is (and how unproven its companies are).

Most established industries don’t label their businesses with the location in which they operate anymore because that aspect of their business is no longer remarkable. Space, like “ocean” or “sky”, is a location, it is not something you “do”. The days of ocean liners and airships have come and gone and like them, so should space names.

Similarly, as companies mature, they lose the need to over-categorize in their names. Take the computing industry for example. In its nascent stages, similar to the space industry, most company names contained some form of the word “computer” or related terminology. Today, hardly any of the world’s top computer companies bother to label their companies “computing.”

Does your favorite clothing brand call itself “Bangladeshi Shirts?”

Not everyone knows space is as awesome as you do.

It might be shocking to some space companies, but your customers might not care that you perform your work in space. In seeking to win over the hearts, minds, and dollars of the audiences who don’t inherently understand the opportunities that exist in space, is it better to gush at them about how awesome space is, or first tell them about the benefit you’ll ultimately provide to them? We’d bet on the latter.

Most customers will only care how they’ll use earth observation to predict retail sales or how they’ll be able to connect remote villages to better internet thanks to your groundstations. A name that forms a human connection and speaks to the distillation of a key benefit is vastly more inspiring and persuasive than the mostly random sci-fi novel you referenced in your name or worse yet, a name that merely says “Space.” In a society where most people don’t fully understand the extent to which space technology affects their daily lives, an accessible name telegraphs that your work is applicable and valuable to them, earthlings, who are, at least for the time being, your key customers.

In fact, some people think space is bad.

Things still regularly blow up in space. This means that to a lot of folks words like “space” and “orbital” are shorthand for: risky, out-there, and far-fetched. If space companies create names more in line with “regular”, earthbound companies that touch humans everyday, people would start to see them as more normal, viable organizations and less so as risky, out-there propositions.

Take our client, Momentus—a propulsion company that came to us wanting to position themselves as an asteroid mining company. They needed to secure a great deal of investment from a wide range of sources and find corporate partners outside the space industry. In a sea of names like Planetary Resources, Deep Space Industries, Phase Four, and Space Systems Loral, we created the name Momentus to stand for their key benefit: to power the movement of humanity. While part of what they do will be related to asteroid mining in the long term, this deliberate move away from asteroid mining in their brand positioning and name lowered the perception of risk and instead speaks to the momentous occasion of space exploration and human expansion, visually cues the word “momentum” and contains the words “moment” and “us” which is highlighted in the design to imply humanity seizing this incredible opportunity.

Lo and behold, Momentus made it into Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, the most prestigious tech incubator in the world, and has since seamlessly pitched both in- and out-of-industry investors and corporate partners. Having a highly-differentiated name and brand that doesn’t immediately pin them to space has served as an exciting springboard for pitching their bold vision.

Elon is visionary, the name SpaceX is not.

We can just hear it now: “Don’t mention space in our name? But Elon did it!” Despite their massive success, the name “SpaceX” actually doesn’t work as hard as it could to tell the world what they’re all about. It’s a good thing they have an outspoken leader like Elon Musk around to make up for that. His personality is the brand and makes up for their otherwise average company branding.

The cold hard truth is that most space companies do not have a superhuman, wildly charismatic serial entrepreneur with a great sense of humor at the helm (sorry) so using a bold name and powerful brand is your best bet for standing out, maximizing curiosity and exposure, and minimizing the number of reasons people have to dismiss you if you aren’t Elon.

Your name, not your technology, is your first impression.

Perhaps a reason why space companies have resisted creating more brand-reinforcing names is because of arrogance? Is there an assumption that brilliant engineering and next-generation technology doesn’t need the fluff stuff of branding and marketing? Yes. More than once, we’ve heard founders say “Names are pointless. It’s our technology that matters.”

While a name might not matter as much to certain technical buyers and contacts, most space companies fail to realize the importance of communicating to audiences beyond them. In order for New Space to grow, space companies must involve powerful people, partners, and customers that exist far outside the space industry and thus, create names that speak to them, too.

Furthermore, many ignore the meta-message their company name sends. Because it is the very first doorway through which someone enters—a first impression—a company that is boldly and innovatively named sends the meta-message that the company itself is bold and innovative.

If not for you, do it for the rest of us.

The collective impact of uncommunicative names and poor branding choices has lowered the bar for the entire space industry. Hundreds of near identical logos and strikingly similar names have formed a perceptual wall around New Space—a wall projecting an exclusive, self-interested club, rather than a hotbed of pioneers solving some of the most intractable issues of modern day society. It obscures the ability of out-of-industry investors, collaborators and the general public to see the enormous mainstream business opportunities that New Space holds.

The New Space economy has been built on the backs of some of the greatest engineers, scientists, and academics of our time, not the greatest marketers and storytellers of our time—and rightfully so. But that’s no reason why those two groups can’t collaborate now. With these forces combined, we’ll see space companies excelling with powerful names and sophisticated brands. We hope that space companies choose to exploit branding as a business tool rather than slapping on a spacey identity without another thought about it. In seizing that opportunity, individual businesses will become more successful, ultimately raising the tide of the New Space Economy overall.

Your Space Brand Is So Much More Than Just A Logo

So you’ve decided to take the plunge: you’re starting your own company. Every business leader knows that running a company takes more than just a good idea. Eventually, you’ll need employees, an office, and of course, a logo.

Yep, there comes a time when every business needs to represent themselves. It usually comes at an inopportune time, out of nowhere, when you are least prepared. Quick! We need business cards for the conference next week. Crap! The investor wants us to pitch tomorrow. In these situations the first thought that comes to mind is usually, “we need a logo”. And while this is true, what you really need is a brand.

Brand is perception.

A brand is different than a logo. Your brand is the perception that customers have of your company in their minds. It is made up of hundreds of touchpoints with your audience—from the first time they hear your company name, to the moment they see your logo at a conference, to the experience they have with your customer service rep. This perception is precious and can in most cases be the determining factor in whether or not they choose to do business with you. Can you be trusted? Are you worthy of investment? Do you have your shit together? Can your customers easily understand what your company does?

Your brand is something that can be carefully designed to produce an intended outcome. What do you know about what your customers like and how can we optimize that in your brand? What is the competition doing and how can we stand out? What is wholly unique about your offering and how can we put that out front?

You don’t ever want to start a brand from a place of urgency. It’s a careful, deliberate process that requires research, digging deep, marination, and strategic decision-making. People often liken it to therapy because it can be mentally taxing yet bring to light truths about your company that you didn’t even know existed. 

space company logo cosma schema

If you rush into choosing a company name, creating a logo, website, or other brand asset without considering the big picture, you’re missing an opportunity to be in control over how people view your company. Or worse yet, you could create a logo indistinguishable from the competition that doesn’t accurately represent your offering—and you’d either be stuck with that forever or have to rebrand down the line when large-scale change is most difficult.

So, while you’re here at the beginning, get ahead of the headache and start considering your brand. Take the time to go through a proper branding process so that as you move forward, these foundational decisions are already made. With a dial brand in place, as you grow you’ll maintain a consistent, deliberate perception in the mind of you customer and will never have to scramble for a quick logo the night before.

Why Design And Branding Are Essential To Space Companies

Take a moment, think about outer space. Visualize it in your brain – what comes to mind? What do you see?


If you’re like most people you see blackness – an empty void. The dark, scary unknown. Maybe you see space hardware like satellites or rockets or even a Star Trek character or two.

You see these things because this is the prevailing popular imagery of space. It is the imagery that represents the broad concept of space as humans see it today. This is the current brand of space.

Until recently, this brand has done a fine job representing space as a whole. The intrigue represented by the dark unknown served the narrative that space is the final frontier – a dangerous place just waiting to be explored. It did a fine job fueling the earliest exploration of the cosmos.

Space is going through a renaissance.

But the image of the unknown black void won’t do for much longer. Space is going through a renaissance. A surge in the number of new space startups has reinvigorated the private space sector in such a way that funding is flowing in and competition is real. They are all banking on space ceasing to be a frontier and becoming a stable place to do business. As new companies form and old companies reconsider their positioning, a central pillar of their successes will rely on how they communicate about themselves and the field in which they operate: space.


Design has the power to shift perceptions of big ideas. As space business matures and a functioning economy emerges within the sector, deliberate design will be at the core of the leading organizations. The companies that can successfully communicate to their customers that space is no longer the dangerous realm it once was will have an advantage over those who stick to the old narrative.

Consider those leading the tech industry. Take Apple and Google – two companies who have successfully normalized vastly complicated industries, personal computing and the internet respectively. They have placed their design philosophies at the core of their businesses and as a result their customers clearly and confidently relate to their products and feel comfortable navigating those previously inaccessible spaces.


Similarly to space design today, at the time these companies were founded, most competitors were failing in the branding department. When Google was founded in 1997 the internet industry leader, America Online, was looking like an Illuminati vacation resort. Apple’s main competitor at their inception was IBM who to this day alienates customers with their safe, blue, collegiate, prison-esque logo. It’s worth noting that at certain points in their evolution that both Apple and Google chose to radically differentiate by adopting bright, playful, colorful color palettes.

space design branding

It is no different for space. There’s an enormous opportunity for a space companies to follow this example and become design leaders within the field. Just as with the internet and computers, space needs to be made accessible. It needs to be brought down to a human level so that the average person can relate to it, not be afraid of it. This ethos should be baked into the core of the emerging (and established) space company’s brand.


When it comes to building a strong brand ultimately the goal is to cultivate trust with your customer. Customers look for this trait above all other things when deciding where to place their money. The most successful brands are typically the most trustworthy because customers feel that when they engage with that brand the likelihood of having a good experience is high.

Space companies more than any other industry need to be laser-focused on building that trust because the work they do carries so much risk. Operating in space is dangerous. To put anything into space (a satellite, much more so a human) you have to strap it to a million pounds of rocket fuel, light a match, and hope for the best. Every. Time.


As a customer, it would be in my best interest to avoid this risk when considering where to spend my money. Let’s say I’m a small satellite maker and I need to hire a launch service company to blast my payload into space. I’m going to go with the company who I trust to safely, reliably complete the job. Same goes for any other product or service. Why should I trust your cubesats to not malfunction? Why is your propulsion system more reliable than another? All of these messages can be communicated through a trust-focused brand strategy.

Develop a trust-focused brand strategy.

That trust is built not only from producing high-quality products and services, but also from the language used to describe them to consumers; the story you tell about your company’s inception, the colors you use in your logo, and how consistently your brand is portrayed. Utilizing imagery not typically associated with space and a bright welcoming color scheme will inspire good feelings within your audience and thus lower the barrier to entry.


With so much new energy being poured into the space sector now is the ideal time to incorporate this type of thinking into the core of space companies. As the landscape (spacescape?) begins to shift away from the final frontier towards business-as-usual the opportunity for design-focused organizations to thrive increases.

Space companies need to take note of how the leading companies on Earth are utilizing design to increase accessibility and build trust.

And it’s really never too early to bring design consciousness into the process. Design decisions are made every day along with every email signature we close with, every proposal we write, or business card we hand out.

The need for deliberate design doesn’t just come when you’re ready to approach customers – it’s necessary at the earliest possible stages of growth. Developing thorough design systems early on will help to guide visualization decisions as the organization grows ultimately making the product/service more consistent and thereby more trustworthy.

Things are happening quickly. What organization will fill the inevitable role of industry leader by placing design at the center of their philosophy?

Why Explore Space When The World Is So Messed Up?

The other day I was blabbing about how amazing it was that humans had landed a spacecraft on a comet and a friend said to me, “That’s cool and all, but why explore space at all, especially when our planet is so messed up?”


This is a perfectly reasonable question. Even though for me the justification is second nature, I can completely understand why someone who doesn’t spend all their time thinking about space would be skeptical.

After all, what is the point? Why launch rockets into the void when our international adversaries want to launch rockets at us? Why put a woman on Mars if we can’t even elect a female president? Why settle other planets when ours is in danger of an impending doom?

I’d like to address these perfectly valid questions by presenting some valuable – if not essential – ways that space exploration contributes to the betterment of humanity and greatly improves the planet we all share.

What has space done for me lately?

Perhaps the most noticeable benefits of space exploration are the happy accidents. When scientists are tasked with solving the complex problems presented by exploring space they often end up inadvertently solving unrelated Earth-born problems too.

There is a robust history of innovations originally intended for use in space that have trickled down for use in other terrestrial applications. For instance, NASA has contributed immensely to the development of solar cells (because, you know, there are no outlets in space) and now, solar power is a driving force in Earth’s renewable energy future.


NASA is credited with inventing a ton of stuff, like cordless handheld power tools, cochlear implants, and one of my favorites, major improvements to water filtration technology. Limited water supply in space means that recycling H2O is extremely important. The technology used to remove water nastiness aboard spacecraft is now being applied to the needs of a billion people worldwide who don’t have reliable access to clean drinking water.

By solving the major problems associated with space exploration humans the world over benefit. If we can grow food on a completely artificial orbiting environment, I think we can grow food anywhere on Earth too. If we can solve the enormous problems associated with putting humans on another planet, who knows what unforeseen secondary problems we may solve along the way.

But our planet is so screwed up, aren’t we gonna just screw up the next one?

When the topic of multiplanetary settlement comes up, it’s easy to assume that we’ll charge into our new home disregarding the existing ecosystem or any potential inhabitants. We’ll change shit around so it works for us and in doing so we’ll make the same mistakes we’ve made for centuries on Earth.

Maybe! But what a fantastic opportunity to learn from our mistakes and do it right this time. To this day, we have no permanent settlements on any planet other than our own. As we begin to solidify plans to move out into the cosmos we have an enormous opportunity to make decisions that respect the world we’ll inhabit. We can do it right this time, if we choose to.  

But we’ll be abandoning our home. Earth still needs help!

One of the more frequent concerns is that focusing on other planets will distract attention from our own. The misconception here is that all outer space missions are solely about heading to the Moon for the sake of it or chasing comets just because we can. We think that space exploration is only about looking outward while Earth gets left behind to rot.

This isn’t true. Actually, a HUGE percentage of all missions are earth-observing, and thus, earth-improving. Thanks to space, scientific satellites are now looking at Earth from every angle, constantly monitoring its vital signs. Using the instruments we have orbiting our planet, data on climate change, deforestation, ocean temperature, and so much more are regularly collected and analyzed to help us better understand our home planet.

Right now, the CORAL mission is figuring out how climate change is actually affecting Earth’s reef systems. And the recently launched GOES-R satellite is set to revolutionize predicting dangerous weather patterns by providing higher resolution imaging at faster speeds than ever before.


It’s also important to remember, protecting Earth and exploring space are not mutually exclusive activities. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We should have smart, dedicated teams of people focusing on as many global issues as possible, simultaneously. Concurrent problem solving assures steady progress is made in all fields and no one issue gets left too far behind. We can tackle world hunger while we explore the bottom of the ocean while we develop renewable energy sources while we search for planets outside of our solar system.

But it’s so hard (expensive)!

Of course it is. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Not doing things because they are hard leads to a complacent and bored population. Accomplishing what seems impossible has the ability to inspire people all over the world to tackle bigger and more complex problems.

President John F. Kennedy said it best when describing the Apollo missions to the Moon:

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”

The fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know. Exploration for the sake of learning new things is essential to human growth. It’s worth the financial investment. The day we stop learning is the day we stop growing, and the day we stop growing is the day we start to perish.


It strengthens and creates new relationships with our neighbors

A major positive impact that has emerged from the global space effort over the last 70 years is regular, successful international collaboration. Russia routinely launches American astronauts to the International Space Station – arguably the greatest example of multi-country cooperation in human history.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is comprised of 23 member nations all contributing resources and talent to one cooperative space program and secondarily, ESA then collaborates with JAXA (The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and so on.

Space exploration is one of the most positive combined efforts in the world. It’s a common interest among all nations. With so much perpetual international conflict it’s vital to be reminded that it is possible to get along with our friends and enemies alike when we’re pursuing shared goals.

It’s at our core as humans

Perhaps the most powerful reason for exploring the cosmos is that it is a fundamentally human pursuit. It is an extension of our need to understand where we came from – a journey we’ve been on ever since humans thought to look up and wonder. It is an expression of our desire to know where we are and what lies beyond our reach. Humanity’s appetite for exploration is insatiable. If there is a place we have not been, we must go there, just to see – just to know what more there is. In an ongoing quest for greater understanding, we are now physically wading out into the shallows of the cosmic ocean, hoping to learn a little more about who we are within.

The act of exploring space creates a net positive in our lives. It inspires us, provides for us, binds us and drives us all. Elon Musk put it best:

“We’re either going to become … a space-faring civilization or we’re gonna be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event. In order for me to be excited and inspired about the future, it’s gotta be the first option.”

I agree.

I Wanted To Make Outer Space Prettier And Now People Are Hiring Me

About a year ago I sat on a hilltop in Portland, Oregon at night with a few friends and a telescope. We were there to watch a lunar eclipse (or a ‘rare super blood moon’ as the clickbait machine had it labeled).

In my time on this planet I’ve seen dozens of these things. Earth’s shadow regularly covers the face of the Moon causing it to go blackish-red for a few minutes – and it’s always spectacular.

On this particular night, however, something funny happened. During the transition, several random people came up to me asking to have a peek through my telescope. As they pulled their faces away they’d look at me and say, “So, what exactly is it?”. “What is what?”, I replied. “What’s happening to the Moon?”, they asked.

Slightly shocked, I explained that the darkening of the moon was caused by Earth temporarily blocking sunlight from hitting the Moon’s surface. We were seeing Earth’s shadow pass over the Moon.

“Earth’s… shadow?” They were stupefied.


The truth was that many spectators in that park didn’t really know what it was that they were there to see. They knew they liked it, and they knew it was cool, but they had no understanding of the mechanics behind the event.

I tried explaining further, using my left fist as the Moon and my right as the Earth and my phone’s flashlight as the Sun but it just wasn’t computing. I asked myself, “why isn’t there a simple resource for learning about this stuff?”.

That’s when it occurred to me: I could make a simple, beautiful website that clearly explains common space-related phenomenon. Starting with eclipses, I’ve done just this, expanding the site to cover a few other cosmological events that needed clearing up.

This exercise led to a profound realization

In researching different ways to clearly explain space I began to notice a recurring theme: the current state of design in the outer space sector is terrible.

I kept seeing the same things over and over. Dark blues and blacks dominate space news websites and space organizations’ branding. Most infographics look like they were designed in Microsoft Paint by a engineer in 1995 – because many of them were.

Could it be that people are having trouble understanding space – and therefore having trouble connecting to space – because it’s just so dang ugly?

space company logo cosma schema

Why does every single aerospace company need a rocket swooshy in their logo? Why are most space graphics cluttered with unnecessary data and consistently negligent of any sort of design standard whatsoever?

What if I could do something to help fix it? Could I go beyond my simple space explainer websites? Could I help other space organizations and companies use design to help better connect with their audiences?

I decided to talk to the pros

The first thing to do was to see if anyone else would care about my realization – was there a demand for this type of service? I had to ask some actual rocket scientists. I decided to attend the NewSpace conference in Seattle to see what the reaction was from real, live, scientists.

With the help of my insanely talented girlfriend, I came up with a cool-sounding name for my “outer space design agency”, whipped up some business cards, grabbed my blazer and headed north. Cosma Schema was born.

art dad.

A photo posted by Andrew Sloan (@sloanal) on

At this first conference and another I attended in Guadalajara I must’ve had a half-a-million conversations. The response was overwhelming. Nearly everyone I talked with expressed excitement for the type of thinking I’d been doing and the type of work I wanted to contribute. People literally grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me saying, “We need more people like you in our field! I’m so glad you’re here.” I even got to meet Bill Nye.

I’ve been humbled and gratified by the response. I’ve kept in touch with many of the engineers, entrepreneurs, and scientists that I’ve met in the last few months and now, as a result, have some outer space branding and design projects under my belt and a few more in the works. To cap it off, last week I was interviewed for the Lingo blog (very cool app, very cool blog) about my opinion on the state of branding in the space industry and my work at Cosma Schema.

I’m giddy looking back on the path that this project has led me down. Looking forward, it has become a bright guiding light in what can at times seem like an uncertain future.

Just get started

The purpose of this post is two fold. Firstly, I wanted to introduce this project in a transparent manner highlighting not only the project, but the path I took to get here.

Perhaps more importantly though, I want to remind folks that you don’t always have to have a plan. If you have an idea for a project, a company, or a collaboration, it’s ok to just start and see where it leads you. If it has legs, they’ll carry you. If it doesn’t, so what, rockets don’t have legs and they can touch the stars.